My Birthday Trip to Lonavala (2020)
Author: Roy D’Silva
We decided to go to Lonavala on my birthday, so this was supposed to be a really quick, between-the-week outing. We took a bus from Mumbai to Lonavala. We caught the bus at 7 AM and reached Lonavala sometime in the afternoon. I don’t know why, but the weather in even the hill stations won’t suit the Mumbai crowd.
We were all sticky and hot by the time we got into our hotel rooms. Again, we had booked an OYO and the size of the room was smaller than what we see in a typical Mumbai flat. But maybe that’s because they have put in a toilet and bathroom within the given 120 sq feet. Anyway, we had planned for it to be a quick trip.
Our hotel room was a bit far from the main market. So, the first time we walked down to see just how far it was. We were in a village, but the lights were on even after nine, so we didn’t feel any insecurity. While returning, the autorickshaw driver charged us about 40 rupees to reach the hotel from the market.
Lonavala is a small place, and as soon as you reach there, you will see people offering you day trips. When we reached Lonavala, we had to take a rickshaw from where the bus dropped us. Those rickshaw drivers offer you a day’s outing, watching all the places in Lonavala for something under 500 rupees. It’s the best way of visiting all the places in Lonavala in a cheap and quick manner.
Lonavala’s most famous place is the Tiger’s Point, but that comes alive only much later in the night and is actually just a hangout place for younger couples and people. Also, it’s not exactly a Government approved place, and definitely not someplace you should be at that time of the night, so go there on your own accord. Anyway, you can go there at the time when it’s active only if you have a vehicle of your own.
But there’s one place in Lonavala that very few people talk about but is an absolute marvel to visit and experience and that is the Narayani Dham Temple. If you have never visited a big temple, this Temple is the best place to visit first. This is a huge, two storey temple area with a top area that has several domes.
This is one of the few temples or churches that I have visited that have given me a chance to feel the grand opulence and serenity. The best part it, it’s totally within Lonavala, so you don’t need to trek somewhere, or go somewhere out of the way. All you need to do is to hail a rickshaw and they will take you to the place.
The other place that we saw was a small picnic spot that overlooked the Valvan Lake and the Valvan dam. There’s a small hamlet type place that overlooks the lake and the dam. During the non-season time, you will see small local shops dotting the entire area, and it makes for a good walk, up till the point that you can see the lake and the dam.
In Lonavala, there’s a small garden as well, the Ryewood Park. The autorickshaw driver told us about it, but we didn’t find it to be a very happening place, and it only works as a place to just spend fifteen minutes if you are on a tour of Lonavala.
Lonavala doesn’t have much in terms of nightlife as well. In fact, if you check out Lonavala, there’s only one stretch of road that then leads to the villages that have all the resorts in Lonavala. On that stretch of road, you now see several fast-food corners and a couple of hotels that offer Chinese cuisine as its central theme. We usually dine-in whenever we go out for a trip, and we did the same this time around as well.
Apart from that, the street also has all the Lonavala chikki and the fudge shops that you would want. We checked out the next day. We find Lonavala chikki to be overrated, but we needed to buy it as proof of our visit 😊 . The same street also has some shops that sell clothes and accessories, nothing very unique.
Everyone in Lonavala talks about Sunil’s Wax Museum. We didn’t go in because we were slightly put off by the entrance – for all purposes, it’s within a mall that’s not very well-maintained. So, we didn’t feel like spending the ticket money to go in and see what it has to offer.
For those who don’t know, Neeta Bus Travels, the popular bus travel service in the western part of India has their hotel in Lonavala, and the prices are almost at par with the other hotels in this region. The plus point here is that the Neeta Hotel is also the boarding and leaving point for Neeta buses. So, if you are traveling by Neeta buses, you can book your rooms in the Neeta hotel and then board your bus from the same hotel.